'Spite houses' are a thing
Annoying neighbours are nothing new, but people taking revenge on property issues get a lot more attention today.
And there's a name for it – "spite houses". The term even gets its own Wiki listing.
Perhaps the most famous recent example is the LGBT rainbow-painted house opposite the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, which is known for its homophobia. Now churchgoers must confront the issue every time they rock up to a service, where, presumably, they are told to love all people equally – or not.
But the celebrated striped house in the posh neighbourhood of Kensington, London, is possibly more revengeful, considering there are a lot of neighbours directly affected.
Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring was seriously annoyed, to put it politely, when she discovered her renovation plans were rejected due to complaints from her neighbours. So she got her revenge by painting bright red and white candy stripes on the front of her house. And she left the last stripe unfinished, which adds an extra degree of spite.
Needless to say, the neighbours hold a bit of sway with the local council, and Lisle-Mainwaring was told to paint it all white and fix up the window frames while she was at it.
Back in 1925, a tiny, narrow house went up right beside a beautiful home in a "nice" part of Seattle. Just 1.3m wide, the house has been the subject of much folklore over the years. One popular theory suggests the tiny home results from a divorce settlement, whereby the husband was awarded the house, and the wife got the front yard. And despite being so narrow, it is surprisingly roomy inside – it was photographed for a sale several years ago.
An even earlier example of a "spite house" dates back to the American Civil War, and at 3.2m wide, it's believed to be Boston's narrowest house (above). The home was built by one of two brothers who inherited land from their father. According to local legend, one of the brothers returned from fighting in the war to find his brother had built a very large house for himself, leaving him just a meagre alleyway.
In building his house in the alleyway, the second brother effectively cut off a lot of air and sunlight to the big house. Pay back.
A deserted, decaying pink house in the middle of nowhere is another example of a "spite house" resulting from a divorce. The settlement terms dictated that the husband should build his ex-wife a similar house when they separated.
So he built an exact replica, but he put it in the middle of a salt march, somewhere near Newbury in Massachusetts. And to make matters worse, he didn't put on any running water. We doubt she ever moved in.
Also in Massachusetts (what is it about this state that makes people spiteful?), is the 2.4m-wide house in Cambridge, built in 1908. The owner had asked the neighbour if they would like to buy his tiny block of land for a cheap price and make their section a little larger. They declined, so he built a tiny house on the site, which detracted from the look of the "posh" house.
Today, the house is occupied by an interior designer who says it serves as a "three-dimensional billboard" for her work.
And in 2001, in Lubbock Texas, the local authority was a bit upset about the number of "unrelated tenants" living in a single house – it delivered an ordinance restricting the number of unrelated people who could live there. Why it was a concern of the council is unclear, but presumably the neighbours complained.
The landlord and tenants responded by painting the entire house purple, and adding a few smiley faces for good measure. Happy days.